Atlanta songwriter talks about co-writing singles for Bieber, Urban


Keith Urban

With Brett Eldredge and Maren Morris. 7:30 p.m. June 11. $35.50-$79.50. Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre at Encore Park, 2200 Encore Parkway, Alpharetta. 1-800-745-3000,

It’s been three weeks since Justin Bieber sent out a tweet announcing the release of his new music video and a campaign with Spotify.

The music video for “Company,” a three-and-a-half-minute visual comprised of travel and tour footage from Bieber’s “Purpose” World Tour, was released Wednesday. Despite the delay, Bieber’s obsessive fans will likely be very happy to receive a glance into the singer’s tour life.

Bieber has often referred to Atlanta as his “second home,” but that’s not the only tie that the singer’s new release has to the city.

Songwriter James Abrahart, a Greater Atlanta Christian School alumnus, co-wrote the song.

“Company” came about when he was writing with songwriter Poo Bear, said Abrahart, or J. Hart as he is known within the industry.

He said he collaborated with the songwriter in hopes of landing a placement on Bieber’s “Purpose” album.

In regards to the Spotify campaign, a spokesperson for the company said the single was included in an advertisement that ran in May.

Abrahart, 27, said songwriters often learn that their songs have made the cut for an album or were chosen as a single along with the general public.

This is what happened when the tracklisting for Bieber’s 2012 album “Believe” was released and Abrahart learned that a song he’d co-written, “Take You,” had made the cut.

He said he’d written the song during a writing camp, but left the session convinced he’d blown an amazing opportunity. Eventually, Bieber recorded the song, and it ended up on the album.

Things don’t always work out in Abrahart’s favor, however.

“The longer I’ve been doing this, the more I try to reserve my excitement, Abrahart said. “There have been plenty of times in the past where I’ve been told a song was going to be the lead single and (then things fell through).”

When The Atlanta Journal-Constitution spoke with the songwriter a few weeks ago, he was in France, where he was hoping to co-write a few future hits.

The “writing camp” was put together by songwriter Greg Wells, with whom Abrahart co-wrote “Wasted Time,” the lead single from Keith Urban’s latest album, “Ripcord.”

“We’re spending 10 days at this amazing castle just writing songs,” he said.

Abrahart, who spent much of his childhood in London, moved to metro Atlanta when he was 11 years old, living in Alpharetta and Duluth. He studied film and music business at SCAD Atlanta and Georgia State University, respectively.

The songwriter, and aspiring singer, lived in Atlanta until he signed a publishing deal with Universal and moved to Los Angeles in 2011.

While he’s worked with artists such as R&B singer Trey Songz in Atlanta, Abrahart said he wanted to get more songwriting credits with pop artists.

“What I wanted out of the scene wasn’t popping (in Atlanta) at the time,” he said.

Even though he is currently living in Los Angeles, he says his upbringing in both London and Atlanta helped him to be able to write for multiple artists, spanning across genres.

For instance, Abrahart says he believes Urban’s “Wasted Time” was subconsciously inspired by one of the summers he spent in Atlanta.

“We ended up writing about the summer when I first discovered his music and I don’t think (Urban) even realized it,” he said.

The songwriter will return to Atlanta this weekend to take his parents to Urban’s show at Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre at Encore Park on June 11.

While he’s celebrating his current successes, he’s also hoping for more.

Fifth Harmony’s new album “7/27” includes a song co-written by Abrahart titled “I Lied.”

The songwriter says he’s also written three songs for “Never Forget You” singer Zara Larsson recently. Perhaps he could be responsible for the Swedish singer’s next U.S. hit.